Guest Column: It’s Stampede Season and “The Never Ending Rhetoric is Getting Old”
By Monika Courtney
Photo by Laura Leigh, Horseback Magazine
EVERGREEN, COLORADO, (Horseback) – The never ending rhetoric is getting old. Reduce cattle permittees. Give back the land to the horses that BLM has taken over the last decades, perhaps about 20 million acres ? Create unbiased AML’s not set too low for horses while favoring livestock, which is seen in the amount of land allotted to cattle, which is more than 250 million acres, whilst horses get 10% of that. Or tackle the cattle VIP mentality, which is between BLM and US Forest Service, 14 million of AUM’s for cattle annually, with only 400’000 to wild horses/burros, which is a 35:1 ratio. Quit the bias in AUM definition, which for cattle is one cow w. calf, however for horses, one AUM equals one horse. With that considered, it seems so dubious of BLM to blatantly keep claiming there is “excess horses”…
Steps to prevent decimation of existing wild herds must be taken NOW. The program is dysfunctional as the hot debate in recent years has shown. Has BLM considered conflict resolution to resolve the controversies related to federal land management ? The U.S. Institute for Environmental Conflicts Resolution (based in Tucson, AZ) offers help for people with differing views/interests to work together in a systematic and organized way to find workable solutions. Yet that would require true negotiation and inclusion by BLM to horse advocates – and all sides’ commitment to finding a solution, with one goal in mind: to improve the program and to ensure fair conservation methods.
Clearly, all grazing folks, cattlemen/hunters and BLM have historically never supported the cause of wild horses. Your current approach proves again the antagonism towards true protection which is not just reflected by you, but by the “range management profession” in general. Your agency’s perspective mirrors the motto: “remove, remover and removest”. With the latest addition of Callie Hendrickson to your Advisory Board, the typical establishment thereof with four of seven board seats at least occupied by “range professionals”,
hunters and cattlemen/sheepmen – giving majority control to the mustangs’ enemies, which is precisely what they are – your rhetoric of “caring for the wild horses” is plain BS.
You include advocates ? With invitations to staged round ups ? The public has pleaded for recognition and its rights on these lands – yet your Advisory Board has no citizen/advocate to ensure just that. It is made up solely of above individual special interests.
The ongoing cruel treatment the horses suffer has recently made the national news again. This was recent and the limping foals coming in are no exception, please get a grip of the reality !
The pursuit by airplanes and mechanized vehicles is cruel, period.
We the public, demand to be heard – so do various state legislators ! Callie’s views of high costs to managing the horses is nothing but an acquiescence to slaughter, hinting to the commercial harvesting as an expedited means of range clearance to make more forage available to vested interests. As long as BLM downplays the numbers, removes animals in any manner the agency deems feasible and denies the cruelty it inflicts - our wild horses and burros are at risk. Would your agency truly care for our input and involvement, you would welcome Craig’s conclusions and studies of Reserve Design as help to improving mustangs’ rightful place on our public lands and ensure their existence for future generations.
Yet the story is the same…. Americans care very much for their wild horses and burros who are subjected to your policies which are nothing short from scandalous.
Let me translate stampede according to the Oxford Thesaurus: SUDDEN FLIGHT OR HURRIED MOVEMENT OF ANIMALS OR PEOPLE. Stampeder: rush, run, race, panic, put to flight, frighten. The BLM’s unwillingness to admit the simple meaning of a word inconvenient to “BLM Speak” to pacify the public is the repeat stubborn, inflexible BLM attitude.The future of herds is threatened, we know Salazar’s plan. The horse removals have not helped nor improved range conditions (GAO study 1990).
Still as ever, wild horses are outnumbered by cattle. At time of above report, nearly 4.1 million cattle verses 42’000 wild horses grazing on BLM allotments, a ratio of 100 cows to 1 horse. Horses wander, so they damage less than cattle. Cattle camp near water, resulting in more damage. You also have targeted horse removals in remote areas, where overgrazing is not a problem; little to be improved via removal.
And the rest of the story is… in areas where BLM has removed horses, at the same time failed to reduce cattle grazing or even allowed it to increase. So please conclude now who has caused more damage to the federal range.
We are not satisfied with the current course of action. Your program is a complete disaster and needs to find a balance between both sides, not to support bureaucrats and ranchers’ political muscle only, but to hear the public whose plea is dismissed.
I can only hope that all people who truly care for our legacy and heritage will continue to take part in offering solutions, expertise and input, education and exposure of our mustangs’ plight – applying pressure and voices to see their beauty and relevance in this country’s history from an unbiased, non-greed driven perspective.
The accusations against these animals must stop, they are not the culprits.